The Nature Conservancy, Ovis XXI and Patagonia, Inc. Create New Sustainable Grazing Protocol for Merino Wool Production in the Patagonia Region
It’s rare that we can create a better product that both helps to restore the health of an ecosystem and reinvigorates a worthy way of life, but our quest for a more responsibly sourced merino wool is driving such change in the grasslands of the Patagonia region.
Patagonia is working with The Nature Conservancy and Ovis XXI, an Argentine company that manages and develops a network of wool producers, in a groundbreaking partnership to reverse more than 100 years of overgrazing in 15 million acres of South America’s iconic Patagonian grasslands.
Together, we are promoting a sustainable grazing protocol called the Grassland Regeneration And Sustainability Standard (GRASS) that manages sheep herds so their grazing activity and movement patterns help to build the soil, transport the seeds and deepen the roots of plants – helping to reverse the desertification of the grasslands. It’s also producing merino wool of the finest quality. It’s the only wool we use in all of our merino baselayers, as well as our merino socks and women’s merino sweaters.
“This is really exciting, because it’s a first attempt at a regenerative model – one that actually improves the environment,” says Todd Copeland, environmental product specialist for Patagonia. “It increases the quantity and diversity of grasses, which accommodates the whole grassland ecosystem. Wool is just the byproduct.”
We’re proud that our sustainably grazed merino wool products are breathing new life into a hammered landscape and an uncertain pastoral existence pushed to the brink by overgrazing. Sheep, those gluttonous grazers of native grasslands, can now become the noble restorers of the same landscape – while we can offer beautiful merino wool products that embody the principles of exceptional quality and environmental responsibility that guide everything we do.